As I drowsily drove down to Bondi Beach a magnificent orange ball, like a giant kiss from God himself, greeted me. I already knew this would be a great day.
Other sleepy but cheery faces soon met me, and we quickly got underway raising tents, setting up barbeques, firing up generators and preparing for a solemn, yet heart warming day. By 7am the place was cranking and abuzz with dozens of frothers keen to strut their stuff in the crystal waters of Bondi. But today was not just about surfing. Indeed we were all here to celebrate life and the tragic shortening of one particular one.
The weather was superb but Huey would test us this fine day with a swell and wind direction, which would cause many an old logger to draw a deep and nervous breath before venturing out into its treacherous waters. Such was the anger of the ocean this day that before its end four Mals would be neatly snapped showing us that we really had no chance of taming the forces of nature no matter how far and advanced our civilization (and board design) had come.
The first heat scrambled into the water at 8.30am and by 9am the carnage had begun with Sam Tehan being the first to destroy his board. Several would follow and the judges were treated to a procession of inglorious wipeouts followed by mad scrambling through the next lineup. The surf was unforgiving, but on this day no one seemed to care.
The heats came and went and the semis were soon ready to be fought out. But, the final 18 surfers would have to wait just a little longer as the real purpose of this contest was about to begin.
Dave Byron and family made a difficult decision and called off the customary “paddle out” which we use to honour Chloe’s memory. Instead, a simple half circle was formed on the warm golden sands, with the ocean completing the other half. Thus our two worlds were joined in one perfect, continuous harmony. The joy and love flowed seamlessly from sand to water, and as our flowers gently landed in the lapping waters we all felt the spirit that embodies ‘Aloha’. Gone but never forgotten, thanks to all those who helped lift the spirits of the Byron’s by simply showing they cared.
The contest continued and I can safely say that the cream kept rising to the top till finally six worthy gladiators were left with the task of securing the trophy. Amongst these, three had already tasted victory in this contest and they knew how special another win would be.
I can honestly say that I was treated to one of the most enjoyable finals ever witnessed. The conditions improved enormously and gave these boys the ammunition to fire up their logs. Well let me tell you, there we no logs out there today, as they slashed, floated, carved and ripped the waves to shreds. Huey had claimed four boards but the last laugh was on our finalists who taught him a lesson he will not soon forget.
Dan Rowlands and Peter Chapman worked the waves well and styled their way to some high scoring rides. “Slippery” Sam Tehan (28) and Col “Lizard” Sutherland (55) showed the spectrum of ages had nothing to do with surfing as they both put on moves that made the spectators gasp and yell for more. Finally to the 2008 and 2009 winners: Anthony “Harries” Carroll whipped his board around like a grommet riding a 6 foot twinnie with more changes of direction than Pacman on heat. On the other hand, Kevin Holt rode with power and control crashing through sections and cruising to the nose at every opportunity. Who would the judges favour? Well in the end it was unanimous, and Kevin made it two years in a row with Harries having to settle for second. On ya boys!
In their own right the girls put up a mighty showing and the fact that they simply ventured out and survived showed us how determined and “ballsy” they really are. Full results to follow this report.
And so to the day’s other highlights… on a day like this there are many, many memorable moments and they invariably leave you with that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. What were they? Steve Czintos won the Aloha Award for his selflessness in chasing sponsors with enthusiasm, dedication and an unwavering devotion to the task. It was uplifting to see him brought to tears as he accepted his trophy and choked down his words.
Jennifer Reynolds was amazed to get a new board care of the Byron’s in the tradition of acknowledging the “gutsiest” surfer on the day. She took a lickin’ but she kept on tickin’.
The kids danced, cavorted and raced around endlessly reminding us all of how great it is to have endless energy and enthusiasm for life. Wish I was six again but then again I would have to accumulate a lifetime of knowledge all over again and that just seems too hard. Give me arthritis, grey hair and wrinkles any day, I’ll leave the youthful things to the kids and wallow in my wisdom. The bottom line is, I think everyone, old, young, sagacious, naive, took home something special this 3rd Sunday in October that they will remember for years to come.
Chloe Byron never experienced Facebook, but I can guarantee you she had more friends there today than any facebook could ever begin to offer.
Aloha my friends
1st Nicole Atherton
2nd Brenda Miley
3rd Frankie Lewis
4th Jennifer Reynolds
5th Sally Charles
6th Cyna Charles
1st Kevin Holt
2nd Anthony Carrol
3rd Sam Tehan
4th Col Sutherland
5th Dan Rowlands
6th Peter Chapaman